Where does all my money go?

Disappearing Act by Coffee Monster

Almost everyone has asked this question at one point, or the other. It seems, that you make a lot of money and then, at the end of the month – you find that you don’t have anything left in your bank account. You can’t think of any ‘big ticket’ items you bought in the month, but at the end of the month – there is nothing left.

I struggle with this all the time and so far the most effective way to tackle this has been checking my online bank account at least once every day.

I have made a conscious effort to pay for most of my purchases through my debit card, so that, it reflects in my online bank account almost immediately.

At the end of the day, when I go through my account, I can see all the debits that took place during the day. Instead of looking at the amounts – I look at the names and if there is something that I can’t recognize, it’s usually something that I could have avoided buying. So, the name of an unknown gas station helps remind me that the next time I fill up the car – I need to go straight in and out, no need to go inside the store.

I think the time I invest to recognize the name of the store helps register the purchase better in my mind. If I don’t even remember the name of the place that I spent money, how can I possibly remember the purchase itself?

So, the number of times I take the store address, as it appears on the bank statement and put that on Google Maps to take a street view, helps me immensely in registering that purchase and the act of spending.

This is probably the most important factor in why it helps me be a little thriftier – because the purchase registers, not when I actually made it, but when I look it up later.

The other major reason, why this helps me is that it shows me how my balance is dwindling and then the next time I am about to spend money – I sense that the number is going to go down a little and so there is a slight hesitation in my mind.

I know this is not very scientific and I think it won’t work well for most people, but somehow it works reasonably well for me. It’s beyond me to make budgets and use online tools and in the absence of that, looking at the bank statement every day proves quite useful.

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